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Solar power as cheap as coal?!?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

According to a post over at EcoGeek, a company called Sunrgi is working to release hyper efficient, cheap solar options by minimizing the amount of photovotaic paneling needed and instead focusing on concentrating the sun's energy:


"Basically they use a magnifying glass to concentrate the power of the sun 1600 times onto a tiny square of the most efficient photovoltaic material on the planet. While others are concentrating on bringing the price of the panels down (along with efficiency), Sunrgi actually uses panels from Spectrolab, which are three times more efficient than the cheap panels being produced by NanoSolar...


...By using such a small amount of photovoltaic material, and such a large amount of cheap magnifying glasses, Sunrgi says that their system should be extremely inexpensive. In fact, they're saying that, in sunny climates, it will be sold for around $0.05 per kilowatt, about the cost of coal. They already have demonstration units running and hope to be selling their first units (to utilities and large businesses) in twelve to fifteen months."



What a concept - minimize the expensive stuff and maximize the cheap stuff...awesome!

Edited by deej - Thu, 01 May 2008 03:02:53 GMT
post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

One thing that wasn't clear in my original post was that Sunrgi isn't the only people who have figured out that it makes sense to magnify the sun's energy, but they claim to do so MUCH more effectively.


Other concentrated photovoltaic makers magnify sunlight about 500 times. Sunrgi says it can multiply that by four because it has a system to instantly cool its germanium-based semiconductor from 3,300 degrees to 20 degrees above ambient temperature. High temperatures can melt a solar cell generally.


Exciting stuff for sure (potentially).

post #3 of 8

Wow, that's pretty impressive.  I wonder what process they use to cool the semiconductor.

post #4 of 8
Originally Posted by dana1981:

Wow, that's pretty impressive.  I wonder what process they use to cool the semiconductor.

They are using passive heat sinks on the bottom of the solar panel to dissipate all the heat generated by the concentrated solar energy.  This will work due to the very thin solar panels not having much in the way of heat capacity.  What they have done is figured out a way to increase the heat flux from the solar cells to the heat sink.  The tremendous temperature difference between the solar cells (3,300 F) and ambient temperature (say, 70 F) is a main driver of thermal flux to the heat sink.  However, the limit to the amount of heat that can be dissipated by the heat sink is dependent upon the effective surface area of the solar cell in contact with the heat sink. 

Anyway, I did not see or read anything about an active system (such as a fan), so I am assuming its completely passive in functionality.
post #5 of 8

But Sungri isn't the first or only company to produce cheap concentrated solar. The Aussies beat us to it... and they've franchised the technology internationally. In fact, they've made some monster orders with solar panel producers... more info in this article.


As for the heat sink, it's a super-secret nanotech goop. (That's exactly how they describe it, apparently)

Edited by michellebennett - Tue, 20 May 2008 00:04:46 GMT
post #6 of 8

Popular Mechanics ran an article the other day on SUNRGI.  The company is saying their panels will be in the 40% efficiency range (current PVs max out around 17% efficiency) and will cost 5 cents per kWh over 20 years (cheaper than coal).  They also say they hope to begin manufacturing within 12 to 15 months.  So they're making some progress.

post #7 of 8


It is interesting to speculate about more efficient solar capture. Relative to the USA today and a real termination of foreign energy dependence, be aware of what Spain has going right now.....certainly Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and other places can put up these sun tower factories which will soon enough be 24 hr producers due to turbine fluid improvements...

Note that France is not in recession....this is because of their reliance on Nuclear for electricity generation....not coal like us. Join the Pickens Plan army or at least review the site and bother these american congressmen till they get it.

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